Shakeup coming to LSU's offensive line
BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU’s offensive line has been a polarizing of topic throughout fall camp and remained a focal point — even in a 31-0 victory over Southeastern. Now, it’s getting a makeover.
Sophomore Austin Deculus, who made his first career start last Saturday against the Lions in place of Saahdiq Charles, will compete with Badara Traore at right tackle leading into the showdown at Auburn. Coach Ed Orgeron remained mum on what will factor into his decision between the two linemen, but offensive line is an area that must improve if the No. 12-ranked Tigers are going to compete at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“We need to improve our pass protection and we’re going to make some adjustments this week in that area,” Orgeron began Monday’s press conference. “We’re going to move him (Deculus) to right tackle this week. We’ll give him to compete with Badara for the starting spot.”
LSU’s line will also welcome Charles back to the left tackle after missing the Southeastern contest, which should shore up Joe Burrow’s blindside.
Pair that with a week of competition between Traore and Deculus, the coach believes the best is yet to come against No. 7 Auburn on the road.
“Getting Saahdiq back will help us,” Orgeron said. “Moving Austin to right tackle to help Badara … He (Traore) was thrown into action and did some good things, but he made some mistakes. I believe our offensive line will have its best game come Saturday.”
It’ll have to earn it, too.
Auburn’s defensive front seven is littered with players that Orgeron previously recruited, most specifically the line comprised of Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown and Dontavious Russell. The talent level is on par with that of its own squad.
Orgeron, who works primarily with the defensive line and edge-rushers daily practice, will keep a keen eye on James Cregg’s unit leading into the first SEC game. However, he’ll leave any decisions about starters up to the position coach.
“If something’s broke, I want it fixed,” Orgeron said.
“I work closely with Coach Cregg, and every day, we go against each other,” he continued. “We say, ‘This guy is really strong’ or ‘If I go against a guy, I’d do this.’ We talk a lot.”
Aranda getting creative in Year 3
Dave Aranda is getting comfortable, which should instill fear in opposing offensive coordinators.
Aranda, now in his this season in Baton Rouge, has shown some new wrinkles through two games thus far, including using sophomore safety Grant Delpit as a blitzer and using more quarter packages to get more defensive backs on the field.
With the combination of Corey Raymond and Bill Busch coaching the secondary, Aranda has assistant coaches he has faith in to experiment freely.
“This is his third year,” Orgeron said of Aranda. “We’ve had different defensive staff than we had his fist year. Dave feels very comfortable with this defensive staff and this staff has a different make-up. Different staffs have different strengths and weaknesses, and this is a very good defensive staff. We do a lot of things and we make a lot of adjustments.”
The most notable has been Delpit’s move closer to the line of scrimmages, where through two contests he’s registered a team-leading two sacks.
Versatility was the first word used by Orgeron to describe his playmaking defensive back.
“He’s very smart. Grant is tall and rangy,” he began. “The first thing you want in a safety is that he plays the post. He’s protecting our defensive as the last line of defense. He makes open-field tackles, but he can rush, he can cover man-to-man, cover in zone, take on blocks. He’s versatile. It’s like having thee players. That’s how much he means to our defense.”
5 players expected back
Charles won’t be the only starter returning this week.
Michael Divinity, who got the nod at F-linebacker against Miami in the season opener, will be back on the field against Auburn. He’ll be joined by fullback Tory Carter, defensive tackle Ed Alexander and defensive back Jontre Kirklin.
All five will be available for the Auburn game, Orgeron said.